Gold Coast Housing Snapshot

Few cities have expanded like the Gold Coast. The once iconic surfing Mecca and holiday destination has grown to become the 6th largest city in Australia with a population that has likely exceeded 600,000 people according to the most recent numbers produced by the ABS.


Whereas most cities have a central hub or business district that is immediately followed by an inner ring of its most desired and expensive property. Which is then followed by a second ring of desirable but likely more affordable property (and so on). The Gold Coast’s most desirable suburbs span it’s 57km coast line and include areas such as Sovereign Island in the North, Nobby’s Beach in the South and Broadbeach towards its centre.

There is not one central business district either. With exception to perhaps Surfers Paradise, the main business districts all sit inland approximately 10 km from the coast line and include Robina, Southport and Coomera further North which has been earmarked for the largest infrastructure spend in the city’s history.

With approximately 10 million people visiting the city each year, about 90% of which are Australian residents, according to the local Government website. Most people are familiar with the golden beaches, world renowned theme parks and high rise glitter strip.

However, the dynamics of the city have changed significantly in the last 70 years and this report seeks to provide its readers an understanding into why many are calling the Gold Coast the current Australian property hotspot.

Birds eye view from Southport to Coolangatta 1952

After the establishment of the Surfers Paradise hotel in 1929 the Gold Coast population grew to around 20,000 by the mid twentieth century not even registering as a population centre on the 1954 census. Today it is home to close 600,000 people by best estimates. A rate of growth that has far outstripped every capital city in Australia according to demographer Bernard Salt.
Known well for its tourism, which still remains its strongest industry (just), the Gold Coast has now become the 6th most populous city in Australia and has multiple pillars of economic support. In the last 5 years the Gold Coast has roared to life with a massive infrastructure spend in the lead up to the Commonwealth Games in 2018. Which includes the light rail project, redevelopment of Pacific Fair shopping centre and a multitude of public and private infrastructure projects in the city’s North (discussed later).

The 2014/15 “Beyond the Horizon Report” funded by Gold Cost City Council and prepared by KPMG identified that the Gold Coast population will grow to 1.2 million people by 2050. The report found that the Coast is now transitioning from a once holiday destination to a knowledge based economy that is becoming rich in education and health care facilities and an economy with an impressive Gross Regional Product of $25 billion.

The report also found that much of the future population growth will come in the next 15 years with around 16,000 additional people arriving each year and the need for 6500 new dwellings every year.

The Apartment Conundrum


The housing mix on the Gold Coast is much more dense than that of comparable cities such as Brisbane and Adelaide. During the first growth phase up until the 1950’s the approximate ratio of detached housing to attached apartment/townhouses was approximately 69:28. However over the next 50 years this would change significantly as high rise after high rise has been built along the cities coastline.

The most recent data available from the ABS suggests that over this time period there were approximately 2.5 apartments constructed for every detached house, changing the mix to closer to 59:40 still in favor of detached housing but well above the national average. Whilst the long term trend has been towards higher density living, there has been a shift in the last 10 years towards detached housing as green fields sites in the North have been opened up with new development and supporting infrastructure.

The Beyond the Horizon Report found the following when comparing the Gold Coast to the following benchmark cities: Brisbane, Adelaide and Newcastle. Under-represented in housing stock (59% on the Gold Coast vs 77-82% in the benchmark cities). Over-represented in semi-detached stock such as townhouses and villas (19% on the Gold Coast vs 9-12% in the benchmark cities). Over-represented by apartment stock (21% vs 8-12% in the benchmark cities).

It is these statistics that have led a number of property commentators to suggest the Gold Coast is headed towards another oversupply in apartment stock in the next 5-10 years. Founder of hotspotting Terry Ryder made the following statement in December 2015 “The Gold Coast market is a tale of two cities, one representing the best of times and the other the worst of times. The best is the housing market, which is responding to population growth, infrastructure spending and other stimulus to produce rising sales activity and price growth across the region. The worst is the likely outcome in the coastal suburbs dominated by high-rise apartments. There is more momentum in the Gold Coast suburban market – what I call the genuine residential market of the Gold Coast – than anywhere else in Australia right now.”

“The Gold Coast is the clear national leader among the Local Government Areas of Australia, including both capital cities and regional areas. It has the most growth suburbs, by a wide margin. When we examine the sales volumes suburb by suburb, the momentum is exceptional. And this is key information for real estate consumers, because when sales activity rises strongly, price growth is inevitable.”

Produced by KPMG 2015 based on ABS data from Queensland Government Statistics Office



Gold Coast Aquatic Centre

A picture paints a thousand words. The Beyond the Horizon report also found that much of the Gold Coasts population expansion will be in the North. The suburbs of Coomera and Pimpama, in the medium term will receive much of this population expansion, before exploding over the longer term as land scarcity and a desire for access to infrastructure shift the major growth populations centres away from the Southern parts of the Coast towards the North.


Gold Coast University Hospital

Coomera is forecast to experience the greatest amount of growth in population with an estimated 70,000 people moving to the area in the next 20 years. This is followed by Southport and Pimpama.

Southport, in the northern tip of central Gold Coast, has previously been widely accepted by residents as the city’s business district.

In 2014 Southport was officially declared the Gold Coasts capital and boasts a number of new redevelopments of its public open spaces including the Broadwater park lands, China town precinct and multi-billion dollar Gold Coast University hospital.

In addition to this other key infrastructure projects now complete include the expansion of the Griffith University and Gold Coast Aquatic Centre.

The Gold Coasts Booming North

View from Upper Coomera towards Griffith University and Southport skyline

M1 Motorway

M1 Motoway

There is a massive infrastructure boom currently underway on the Northern Gold Coast. Particularly in key population centres of Coomera and Pimpama that includes the future expansion of the Gold Coast marine precinct, the doubling in size of the Coomera Tafe campus, the redevelopment of the Coomera exit from the M1 motorway (currently underway) in addition to the future billion dollar Westfield Town Centre in Coomera East.

Clearing of the Town Centre site commenced in late 2015, which sits adjacent the established Coomera train station. According to the Gold Coast City Planning Committee, the Town Centre will provide a department store, 2 supermarkets, 2 discount department stores, a 9 cinema complex, 6 mini major tenancies, 123 retail outlets and 61 food outlets. This project alone is expected to generate an additional 1200 jobs during construction an additional 1600 jobs at the completion of construction.


Artists Impression of Coomera Town Centre

Residents who utilise the existing train service already have access to express trains into the city every 15 minutes during peak hour from Coomera. The express train service makes just 1 stop at Beenleigh before stopping at Southbank in Brisbane City reducing the journey time to around 40 minutes. Now thanks to the fast tracking of the light rail project, residents will soon also be able to travel South from Coomera to Griffith University, Southport, Broadbeach and Robina making just 1 interchange at Helensvale.


Coomera Marine Precinct

There are close to a dozen schools within a 15km radius of the Coomera town centre and a further 7 more in the planning stages. The Coomera Tafe provides training for the technical skills of tomorrow and Griffith University Gold Coast campus is located in Southport approximately 10-15 minutes by car from Coomera.


The Gold Coast City Council estimates that the Commonwealth Games will provide a $2 billion economic injection and up to 30,000 full time jobs as a direct result of hosting the event. $200 million of which will be spent on sporting infrastructure that will pave the way for further sporting and entertainment events in the years that follow.

The games have also triggered a number of key lasting infrastructure initiatives for local residents including the light rail upgrade (phase 1 now compete), the redevelopment of Jupiter’s casino and Broadbeach mall, the redevelopment of Pacific Fair shopping centre and the $300 million expansion of the Gold Coast International Airport.

The Broadwater, from Surfers Paradise to Southport, has now been completely restored with walk ways and significant landscaping across this 10 km stretch that includes the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre.

Coomera’s sporting infrastructure will benefit significantly as a result of the games with a massive “supersized” sports stadium that will hold 7500 people over an area of 10,000m2. This will be used for netball and gymnastics during the games before being transformed into a multi sports centre that is expected to capture other International events in the years that follow.
Deputy Premier and Minister for State Development, Infrastructure and Planning Jeff Seeney highlighted that the venue was one of the wins from the Commonwealth Games Federation’s approval of the revised master plan and sporting list released in 2014.

“The concept drawings released for the new Coomera Sports and Leisure Centre demonstrate the great work happening behind the scenes to deliver exciting world-class sport and community infrastructure,” he said.

Reproduced with permission by Collins House Property Group.